A New Jersey radio station indefinitely suspended two show hosts after they referred to the state's Sikh attorney general as “turban man.”
"We are aware of the offensive comments made by Dennis and Judi during today’s broadcast," the station said in a Thursday statement. "We have taken immediate action and have taken them off the air until further notice. We are investigating the matter and will have further comment shortly."
The suspension came hours after the mid-day hosts used the term to refer to state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
The pair were discussing Grewel’s recent order to suspend marijuana prosecutions on-air when Malloy said he couldn’t remember Grewal’s name.
"I'm just going to say the guy with the turban,” he said. "Listen, and if that offends you then don't wear the turban and maybe I'll remember your name."
Malloy and Franco both called Grewal “Turban Man” for the remainder of the segment.
"Is that highly offense? Could be. But if you call me 'baseball hat man' in a culture where nobody wears baseball hats, and they call me 'baseball hat man,' should I be offended?" Malloy continued. "No."
“No, I would say no,” Franco agreed.
Grewal is the first Sikh in the state to hold the position of attorney general.
The hosts immediately faced widespread backlash following their comments.
Gov. Phil Murphy (D) accused them of making “abhorrent and xenophobic” comments, according to news site NJ.com.
"Hate speech has no place in New Jersey, and it does not belong on our airwaves," Murphy said in a statement. "Station management must now hold the hosts accountable for these intolerant and racist comments."
Grewal himself responded to the comments on Twitter Thursday morning.
.@nj1015: My name, for the record, is Gurbir Grewal. I’m the 61st Attorney General of NJ. I’m a Sikh American. I have 3 daughters. And yesterday, I told them to turn off the radio.— Gurbir S. Grewal (@GurbirGrewalNJ) July 26, 2018
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Jersey even released the pronunciation for Grewal’s name on Twitter.
“Turban man? Is that offensive?” The group tweeted in response to Malloy’s question. “Yep. (If you have to ask…)"
Say it with us: Ger-beer Gray-wall. If you google "Gurbir Grewal pronunciation" this is the 1st result: https://t.co/OdU4qFzInK "Phil Murphy" is probably less phonetic.— ACLU of New Jersey (@ACLUNJ) July 25, 2018
"Turban man? Is that offensive?" Yep. (If you have to ask...)
Racism isn't cute. It's just racist. https://t.co/KYycUuvVgc
Neither Malloy or Franco responded to NJ.com’s request for comment.